Some of the most challenging and exhilarating trails in Nepal are the Kanchenjungha and Manaslu circuit treks. Kanchenjungha is the third highest mountain in the world standing at 8,586m and a trail around this area explores the remote area on Nepal’s border with Sikkim and Tibet. The Manaslu circuit on the other hand is a classic route that centers on Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain, also including the Larkya La Pass at over 5,100m which offers spectacular views. Neither of these treks is for the faint-hearted, they are long and arduous: if traveling from Kathmandu, the Kanchenjungha adventure will take around 25 days, with the classic Manaslu circuit offering a shorter option of about 18 days. However, the transition of scenery along the way is unquestionably breathtaking and absolutely worth the effort. It is important to be prepared for your trip to get the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Exploring the Kanchenjungha Region
This trail begins on the north side of Kanchenjungha, with views of Tent Peak, Cross Peak, and Nepal Peak as a backdrop. You will then trek from Pangpema to Ghunsa, across the Mirgin La pass, and emerge on the south side of Kanchenjungha, enjoying the yak pastures of Oktang and breathing in the views of the mountain.
This camping trek has a number of basic small lodges that are dotted along the way. There aren’t too many at present, but this is likely to change in the coming years. Currently, it is not likely to be a busy trail for you, unless you are going at peak time, which is in October. However, you should be prepared with a tent and camping equipment nevertheless. Click here for Kanchenjungha Trek package details.
The Manaslu Circuit
This beautiful walk through multiple Hindu villages lower down and Buddhist settlements higher up is incredibly scenic. Your trail begins in the bamboo forests outside of Arughat. You will then pass through the Gurung villages before approaching the narrow Budi Gandaki gorge. The Nupri region is home to Tibetan immigrants and their ancient monasteries, which make a wonderful visit before arriving at the challenging Larkya La pass. From here, you will take in superb views of Manaslu, as well as Himal Chuli, Cheo Himal, and Himlung Himal mountains.
The construction of lodges along this route is more widespread, but you do also have the option of sleeping outside in a tent if you prefer to bring your own. Click here to get the package detail of the Manaslu circuit trek.
What to Bring
It is important to plan what essentials to bring in your backpack for these challenging trails. Begin by purchasing a lightweight backpack, which is strong and has many pocket options. Your clothing should be cotton to allow your skin to breathe – layers are a good idea, as are zip-off trekking pants that can be adapted into shorts as the weather conditions change. You will also need some waterproof options, including a windbreaker and rain jacket. As both trails involve the crossing of passes, it would be advisable to wear some mini spikes or micro crampons with thick socks to be prepared for conditions underfoot. Trekking poles and gaiters are also a must as it may be icy on your descent. Other necessities include a small Swiss army knife, a flashlight, a watch and compass, a trekking map, and some sun protection gear including a hat, chapstick, and strong sunscreen. You should also include at least 1 water bottle and some purification drops to ensure adequate hydration.
In addition to these items, you should be certain your guide has taken care of obtaining the proper permits. If you find that you wish to bring excess equipment that you cannot carry by yourself, then you may also opt to hire a porter. By doing so, you will be able to take bulky camera equipment along to record your journey and you will also be contributing to the local economy.
Written by: Jenny Holt (article writer)